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Being Black at Philly Magazine's Town Hall Meeting
In writing about the violent and lawless subculture among Black people in Philadelphia, Philly Magazine's writer Bob Huber made two unforgivable errors: one, he noticed the trend and two, he used the W-word (White). Unlike the travesties that occur in the Black community, this "Being White in Philly" article couldn't go unpunished.
Consequently, in an attempt to offset the resulting tsunami of anger, Huber's editor called for a town hall meeting at Philadelphia's Constitution center. Ironically, this public meeting was taking place in a building that was established to explore and celebrate the most important piece of paper in history... and now it is ground zero for the "Being White in Philly" article. Go figure.
I got there early to secure a front row seat. Right away, it was clear that many attendees had not read the article. They refused to accept the article's premise, which implies that Philly is a lousy place for Whites because they can't talk about the crime and violence that Black people seemingly consider normal. Speaking out in any capacity warrants an automatic branding as racist.
Consequently, White flight or White silence ensues.
Although this "town hall" meeting was touted as a forum to promote racial understanding through honest dialogue, it was nothing more than Blacks finger pointing and Whites apologizing for being observant.
Of the six panelists, the four Black members wanted no part of the statistical reality. Almost immediately, they pulled the classic switch: The observer/victim of crime, in this case Huber, was treated as the participant/victimizer.
Having a numeric advantage on the panel allowed the Black panelists to viciously tag-team their counterparts into submission. In between the verbal chokeholds, they ping-ponged the usual excuses (slavery, poverty, racism) for the criminality and dysfunction that's endemic to an African-American subculture.
In other words, business as usual.
As a Black man, I inherently know that denunciation of this victimization gospel in any capacity is sacrilegious and leads to an automatic questioning of one's "blackness."
After an hour or so of listening to the denial, protectionism, excuse-making and outright racism from the Black panelists, I (and many others) could no longer tolerate the 50-year old excuses. As a result, several people exited.
Unfortunately, they missed the best part... question and answer.
Refreshingly, a few realists who happened to be Black grabbed the microphone and provided temporary reprieves from the ad hominem attacks against the author.
Unlike the apologists on the panel and in the audience, these realists refuted the hypocritical empathy expressed for the dysfunctional subculture. Instead, they insisted on holding these menaces responsible for the pathologies plaguing Black communities. Furthermore, these brave and principled souls emphasized personal accountability while challenging others to do the same. Someone must've cued the crickets because the place was quiet after these reality checks.
Eventually, the Black anger resurfaced and it attacked everything except the actual Black criminals.
Racial dialogue is fine, but any critique that focuses on excuses and not responsibility will always stall any discourse.
Even though "Being White in Philly" reflects a national sentiment that's felt wherever Black crime runs unchecked, the magazine still felt the need to embark on an apology tour for publicizing it.
As a White journalist, Huber violated the unwritten code of "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" when discussing the Black community... so he had to pay.
White reporters must know that it is acceptable to talk about Black Caucuses, Black history month, Black colleges, Black holidays, Black everything except one thing: the lopsided amount of Black criminality in the Black community.
It's a Black thing, Huber... You wouldn't understand.
Taleeb Starkes is the author of a controversial book that confronts the subculture within the African-American community titled, The Un-Civil War: BLACKS vs NI**ERS.
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